Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, July 6 2012 at 2:31 PM, Updated: Fri, July 6 2012 at 2:42 PM
A lost boy with autism sparks a major search effort in the south suburban area of Klamath Falls...
Six year old Shaun Grinnals lives with autism.
"He is non-communitive." Notes Shaun's mother, Crystal Grinnals. "He loves to sing, loves to make music, but he will not communicate - he's very aggressive."
Just before six Thursday night, Shaun ran off naked while his mom was getting a bath ready.
"I was scared." Recounted Mrs. Grinnals. "It's the third time he's done it, but it's never been this long."
A call to 911 triggered a massive search of the neighborhood.
Sergeant Darren Frank of the Klamath County Sheriff's Office says that Shaun's autism complicated the search effort...
"It just makes it a heck of a lot harder to pinpoint, or out-guess him as to where he's going to go."
Crystal Grinnals began to panic as minutes turned into hours. "There were so many bad things going through my mind. It was starting to get dark - it was starting to get cold."
Just before 8 p.m., Sgt. Frank notes that Shaun was spotted in the upstairs apartment. "He actually climbed a rain gutter to the top story on the balcony, and got in an unlocked, sliding glass door."
Crystal Grinnals has high praise for all those who helped with the search. "Everybody told me there was a good 500 people out searching. I can't even thank them enough."
Police used a ladder to rescue Shaun from the locked apartment two hours after he went missing.
Over two dozen officers from several agencies helped to comb the neighborhood. A command post was set up at a nearby church, where calls were made to neighbors to help locate the boy.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.